Sorry Ive been a little quiet but its been a little busy around here.
I am packing tonight to fly home to the UK after two very interesting, challenging, chaotic, testing and enjoyable weeks.
Have I flown? Yes. Can I fly.....um Im feeling pretty good about progress but certainly not close to confident by any means.
It feels important to try and give an accurate description of the time I have spent here, the lessons I have learned so far about flying paramotors, the experience of learning to fly overseas and the reality compared to my expectations.
Number one, the weather in Spain has extended the amount of work you can fit into a short period of time much higher.
Plus side is you learn more, down side is that you had better be fit or you will really suffer (more on that later)
Two, the scenery from high above this part of Spain is stunning with clear blue sky allowing miles and miles of visibility
Down side could be seen as the amount of messy air mountains cause and the issue of thermals though the middle of the day.
Learning in cold still air might not be as good for your tan but might well extend the hours available for training.
Three the people. I have met some of the best guys ever over the last two weeks and I am really looking forward to seeing them again later in the year so we can see how far each of us has progressed. I did think a few times how hard it would be, away from home if I have been here for this long with less amazing course mates. No Mrs or mates to go home to would make that hard.
Four Reliability of kit. I am really bloody glad I made the daft / brave call to buy the parajet before I got here. If you are off the beaten track kit issues can eat into a days training really quickly and take away your opportunity to learn about flying. Plus side would be a course in mechanics for anyone unfamiliar with how engines work and what tools are for.
Five ground handling. If you are even thinking about a course with no ground handling experience get your bumps felt! Its way harder than it looks and will eat into your time away like nothing else. Buy a harness and a cheap old wing, grab a willing local expert (not a youtube video) and get as much practice in as you can. I spent a good few days being dragged around by an angry table cloth when I could have been making way better use of the instructors skills! Remember when I said you need to be fit? I shit you not bear wrestling would be easier than three whole days of ground handling! i have never been so beaten up, bruised and knackered!
Six. Strings! I know thats not what they are called but thats what Im going to call them until I master them. If you have no real ability to be methodical in your packing away, no desire to quietly spend what feels like hours knitting a set of lines and you find the idea of being laughed at when your instructor shows you for the tenth time that pulling this line through here and flicking this over there means your twenty minutes of macrame wasn't actually needed then you really really really need to get some practice in before you start. I think at least a day over the last two weeks could have been put to really good use if I had even basic prior cats cradle experience.
Seven. Paragliding. Im not sure how this will go down but having been here for two weeks I rather wish I had been in a position to have done at least two days paragliding training before I came to Spain. Ive seen first hand just how valuable that is by watching how many steps other students were ahead of me from day one.
Eight. Joy! The joy of my first flight will live with me forever. Nothing prepared me for that feeing as the wing loads, the harness starts to lean on the back of your legs and ten steps later you are up and away!
Nine. Fear. I have seen a few guys in the last two weeks "get the fear" I would beg you experienced guys to try your hardest to find ways of sharing learning experiences that dont involve the words "He will be alright in the end" or "shame really he was a really nice bloke" I know we are all boys and spinning a yarn is part of the fun but pretending to be blasé about accidents in front of brand new pilots just adds a layer of concern that isnt healthy.
Ten. Be realistic. Ive done two weeks. Im physically exhausted, mentally drained and Im not as far along as I intended to be. Dont put pressure on yourself to hit goals just push on as comfortably as you can, take each step in your stride and enjoy the process rather than focusing on the endgame.
Im looking forward to getting home to my wonderful wife tomorrow and I cant wait to get to meet the Cornish massive for the next step on my flying adventure.
OK thats it for now, Sorry if this is boring, old news, self absorbed, indulgent or just bullshit. I would love some feedback on my opinions as well as any questions. I will add a bit more actual detail regarding what Ive done so far as soon as I processed it myself.
Stay safe you hear!